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The Greatest Teacher Characters in Film

Updated April 23, 2020 886 votes 158 voters 5.2k views

Whether you were a straight-A student or spent more time in the principal's office, chances are you had a memorable teacher. And if you didn't have one in your own life, you almost certainly did through the movies. The greatest teacher characters in film inspired their students – and sometimes intimidated them. These fictional teachers made audiences laugh, cry, and maybe even learn.

Read through this list of the best teacher characters in film, and you'll notice a wide range of scholastic specialties. The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as seen in the Harry Potter films, boasted one of the most magically gifted faculties around. Professors Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape both appear on this list. Less magical, but no less inspiring, is Robin Williams's role as John Keating from Dead Poets Society. The iconic actor appears on this list again, as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting.

Some teachers are most memorable as strict disciplinarians. Take Terence Fletcher, the temperamental music teacher from 2014's Whiplash. He's the kind of teacher most students would be happy to avoid.

Now it's your turn to determine who makes the honor roll. Vote up your favorite fictional teachers, and add any characters that are missing. And if you like these characters, be sure to check out our list of inspirational teacher movies.

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  • John Keating1
    50
    22

    John Keating

    Dead Poets Society

    ActorRobin Williams

  • Sean Maguire2
    36
    17

    Sean Maguire

    Good Will Hunting

    ActorRobin Williams

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  • Professor Severus Snape3
    39
    23

    Professor Severus Snape

    Harry Potter Universe

    ActorAlan Rickman

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  • Mr. Kesuke Miyagi4
    26
    10

    Mr. Kesuke Miyagi

    The Karate Kid, Part II

    ActorPat Morita

  • Yoda5
    29
    19

    Yoda

    Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

    ActorTom Kane, Frank Oz

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  • Remus Lupin6
    21
    9

    Remus Lupin

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

    ActorDavid Thewlis

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    #2 of 107 The Greatest Harry Potter Characters, Ranked#18 of 41 The Saddest Deaths in Kids Movies

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi7
    21
    10

    Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

    ActorEwan McGregor, James Arnold Taylor, Alec Guinness

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  • Professor Albus Dumbledore8
    27
    21

    Professor Albus Dumbledore

    Harry Potter Universe

    ActorMichael Gambon, Richard Harris

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  • Dewey Finn9
    25
    20

    Dewey Finn

    School of Rock

    ActorJack Black

  • Terence Fletcher10
    14
    7

    ActorJ.K. Simmons

  • Detective John Kimble11
    16
    10

    Detective John Kimble

    Kindergarten Cop

    ActorArnold Schwarzenegger

  • Ms. Norbury12
    19
    14

    Ms. Norbury

    Mean Girls

    ActorTina Fey

  • Indiana Jones13
    22
    20

    Indiana Jones

    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Disaster Movie

    ActorHarrison Ford, Tony Cox, River Phoenix

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  • Mark Thackeray14
    14
    12

    Mark Thackeray

    To Sir, with Love

    ActorSidney Poitier

  • Professor Dave Jennings15
    13
    12

    Professor Dave Jennings

    National Lampoon's Animal House

    ActorDonald Sutherland

  • Louanne Johnson16
    9
    7

    Louanne Johnson

    Dangerous Minds

    ActorMichelle Pfeiffer

  • Melvin B. Tolson17
    12
    11

    Melvin B. Tolson

    The Great Debaters

    ActorDenzel Washington

  • 18
    13
    14

    Mr. Vargas

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High

    ActorVincent Schiavelli

  • John Nash19
    9
    8

    John Nash

    A Beautiful Mind

    ActorRussell Crowe

  • Glenn Holland20
    8
    9

    Glenn Holland

    Mr. Holland's Opus

    ActorRichard Dreyfuss

  • Mr. Hand21
    13
    17

    Mr. Hand

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High

    ActorRay Walston

  • 22
    9
    11

    Bill Rago

    Renaissance Man

    ActorDanny DeVito

  • William Forrester23
    7
    10

    William Forrester

    Finding Forrester

    ActorSean Connery

  • Annie Sullivan24
    7
    11

    Annie Sullivan

    The Miracle Worker, Deliverance

    ActorAnne Bancroft, Edith Lyle, Patty Duke

  • Arthur Chipping25
    6
    9

    Arthur Chipping

    Goodbye, Mr. Chips

    ActorRobert Donat, Peter O'Toole